Category Archives: Educatie

Antimatter caught streaming from thunderstorms on Earth

Electrons racing up electric field lines give rise to light, then particles, then light

A space telescope has accidentally spotted thunderstorms on Earth producing beams of antimatter.

Such storms have long been known to give rise to fleeting sparks of light called terrestrial gamma-ray flashes.

But results from the Fermi telescope show they also give out streams of electrons and their antimatter counterparts, positrons.

The surprise result was presented by researchers at the American Astronomical Society meeting in the US.

It deepens a mystery about terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, or TGFs – sparks of light that are estimated to occur 500 times a day in thunderstorms on Earth. They are a complex interplay of light and matter whose origin is poorly understood.

Thunderstorms are known to create tremendously high electric fields – evidenced by lightning strikes.

Electrons in storm regions are accelerated by the fields, reaching speeds near that of light and emitting high-energy light rays – gamma rays – as they are deflected by atoms and molecules they encounter.

These flashes are intense – for a thousandth of a second, they can produce as many charged particles from one flash as are passing through the entire Earth’s atmosphere from all other processes.

Scaling down

The Fermi space telescope is designed to capture gamma rays from all corners of the cosmos, and sports specific detectors for short bursts of gamma rays that both distant objects and TGFs can produce.

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I think this is one of the most exciting discoveries in the geosciences in quite a long time”

Steven CummerDuke University

„One of the great things about the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor is that it detects flashes of gamma rays all across the cosmic scale,” explained Julie McEnery, Fermi project scientist at Nasa.

„We see gamma-ray bursts, one of the most distant phenomena we know about in the Universe, we see bursts from soft gamma-ray repeaters in our galaxy, flashes of gamma rays from solar flares, our solar neighbourhood – and now we’re also seeing gamma rays from thunderstorms right here on Earth,” she told BBC News.

Since Fermi launched in mid-2008, the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) has spotted 130 TGFs, picking up on the gamma rays in low Earth orbit as storms came within its scope.

But within that gamma-ray data lies an even more interesting result described at the meeting by Dr McEnery and her collaborators Michael Briggs of the University of Alabama Huntsville and Joseph Dwyer of the Florida Institute of Technology.

„We expected to see TGFs; they had been seen by the GBM’s predecessor,” Dr McEnery explained.

„But what absolutely intrigues us is the discovery that TGFs produce not just gamma rays but also produce positrons, the antimatter equivalent to electrons.”

When gamma rays pass near the nuclei of atoms, they can turn their energy into two particles: an electron-positron pair.

Because electrons and positrons are charged, they align along the Earth’s magnetic field lines and can travel vast distances, gathered into tightly focused beams of matter and antimatter heading in opposite directions.

The dance of light and matter continues when positrons encounter electrons again; they recombine and produce a flash of light of a precise and characteristic colour.

It is this colour of light, picked up by the Fermi’s GBM, that is a giveaway that antimatter has been produced.

The magnetic field can transport the particles vast distances before this characteristic flash, and one of the Fermi detections was from a storm that was happening completely beyond the horizon.

Gamma rays (purple) can turn into focused matter/antimatter beams (yellow)

The results will be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Steven Cummer, an atmospheric electricity researcher from Duke University in North Carolina, called the find „truly amazing”.

„I think this is one of the most exciting discoveries in the geosciences in quite a long time – the idea that any planet has thunderstorms that can create antimatter and then launch it into space in narrow beams that can be detected by orbiting spacecraft to me sounds like something straight out of science fiction,” he said.

„It has some very important implications for our understanding of lightning itself. We don’t really understand a lot of the detail about how lightning works. It’s a little bit premature to say what the implications of this are going to be going forward, but I’m very confident this is an important piece of the puzzle.”


7 Lessons From 7 Great Minds

Have you ever wished you could go back in time and have a conversation with one of the greatest minds in history? Well, you can’t sorry, they’re dead. Unless of course you’re clairaudient, be my guest. But for the rest of us, we can still refer to the words they left behind.

Even though these great teachers have passed on, their words still live, and in them their wisdom. I’ve made a list of seven what I believe are some of the greatest teachings by the world’s greatest minds.

1. Realizing Your Dreams

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
– Lawrence J. Peter

In order for us to achieve our dreams, we must have a vision of our goals. Writing down our dreams and creating a list of actions helps us stick to our plan. As it’s said “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. When we turn our goals into measurable actions, we gain clarity and are able to see the necessary steps we must take in order to achieve them.

Action: Visualize a life of your wildest dreams. What did you dream of doing when you were a child? What would you do if you had a million dollars? Create a vision for your goals and start breaking them down into small actions that you can take on a day by day basis.

2. Overcoming Fear

“It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, “Always do what you are afraid to do.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

The best way to learn something is to dive right in to it. When we overcome our fear of failure, we learn that only those who are asleep make no mistakes. Fear is the only thing keeping us from experiencing a life of love and fulfillment. If we make a commitment to an uncompromisable quest for truth, we will realize that as we grow more into the truth, our fears start to disappear.

Action: You must define your fears in order to conquer them. Create a list of everything you’re afraid of and start facing them one at a time. Make a commitment to yourself now to not let fear rule your life.

3. Intention and Desire

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.”- Guatama Buddha

Our thoughts determine our reality. When we stop thinking about what we don’t and begin thinking about what we do want, our lives begin to transform. Instead of working against our desires and intentions, we move into alignment with them.

Action: Create a list of your intentions and desires. Wherever you go, take this list with you. Read it when you wake up and before you go to sleep.

4. Happiness

“Happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances.”
– Benjamin Franklin

Happiness comes from an inner peace, understanding and acceptance of life; a perspective of truth that opens your eyes to the beauty of life all around us. Happiness cannot be achieved by external status, it must be an internal state that we realize when we see our innate perfection.

Action: Realize that happiness is a choice. In every decision you make ask yourself “how can I respond to make myself happy and fulfilled?”

5. Self Acceptance

“If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” – Jesus

When we stop trying to be what we are not, we realize our authenticity. Before we had knowledge, we were completely authentic. We learn to use knowledge to measure and judge, which is a powerful tool we have as humans. However we create an image of perfection in our mind of what we should be, but are not. We confuse knowledge for nature. We believe in the lie of our imperfection. When we realize this we can reclaim the truth of our perfection and live in love and acceptance.

Action: Make a commitment to never go against yourself. Practice non-judgment and realize that the same part of your mind that condemns you is the same voice that caused you to take the action in the first place. We don’t even have to believe what we say to ourselves.

6. Appreciation and Gratitude

“So much has been given to me, I have not time to ponder over that which has been denied.”
– Helen Keller

How many times do we count our misfortunes rather than our blessings? When we take time to open our eyes to the miracle of life we can see the many gifts that have been given to us. Remembering all the beautiful aspects of life and all the reasons you are blessed can immediately shift our mood. We can move from sorrow and despair to appreciation and hope.

Action: Each time you find yourself complaining about something, re-direct your focus to something you are grateful for. Make a habit of transforming your awareness of troubles into an awareness of abundance.

7. The Art of Simplicity

“I made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it short.”
– Blaise Pascal

Perfection is not when there is nothing to add, but when there is nothing more to take away. As Bruce Lee once said “the height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.” True mastery of our lives is realizing the simple joys of life, removing distractions and clutter from our lives.

Action: The art of simplicity is knowing what to take away. Practice recognizing when you’re spending your time on unimportant tasks and re-focus on the important.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are other many great teachings that I did not include here because I felt like they were already expounded on thoroughly elsewhere, such as Einstein and Gandhi’s timeless classics. There are also great teachings to be found from our parents or friends.

Hints for Remembering Better

1. Understand thoroughly what is to be remembered and/or memorized
2. Spot what is to be memorized verbatim. It is a good plan to use a special marking symbol in text and notebook to indicate parts and passages, rules, data, and all other information that is to be memorized instead of just understood and remembered
3. If verbatim memory is required, go over the material or try to repeat at odd times.
4. Think about what you are trying to learn. Find an interest in the material if you wish to memorize it with ease.
5. Study first the items that you want to remember longest.
6. Learn complete units at one time, as that is the way it will have to be recalled.
7. Overlearn to make certain.
8. Analyze material and strive to intensify the impressions the material makes.
9. Use concrete imagery whenever possible. Close your eyes and get a picture of the explanation and summary answer. Try to see it on the page. See the key words underlined.
10. Make your own applications, examples, and illustrations.
11. Reduce the material to be remembered to your own self-made system or series of numbered steps.
12. Represent the idea graphically by use of pictorial or diagrammatic forms.
13. Make a list of key words most useful in explaining the idea or content of the lesson.
14. Form a variety of associations among the points you wish to remember. The richer the associations, the better the memory.
15. Try making the idea clear to a friend without referring to your book or notes.
16. Actually write out examination questions on the material you think you might get at the end of the term. Then write the answers to your own questions. Since you now have the chance, consult the text or your notes to improve your answers.
17. Follow suggestions for reviewing. This is an important part of remembering.